Thursday, December 31, 2020

My books of 2020

Hello guys! 

Happy December 31st. The last day in a very strange year. This year has been sad, strange, scary and full of loss and tears, but I hope 2021 can get us all back on the right track and we can enjoy it more.

In 2020 I started this blog back in February, and in July I started my Bookstagram account. I am happy to say I love it, and I’m going to make 2021 the year I concentrate more on both. 

So this year I read 45 books, which I’m very happy with. I read maybe 6 books between January and June so the rest was all over the second half of the year. My favourite was Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, I have told everyone they would love this book, and I am not planning on shutting up about it anytime soon! 

My goals for 2021 are (there aren’t many):

⬤ Read more of the books I have on my shelves (check out my 21 to read in 2021 coming tomorrow)

⬤ Catch up on my Netgalley books and try to keep my percentage above 80

⬤ Try to post a least twice a week on my Instagram and here, most will be reviews here, and a mix of reviews and book stack photo etc on my Instagram.

I am planning on giving my blog a bit of a newer look from tomorrow so make sure to pop back and check it out. 

Thank you to all of the authors, publishers and agents who have sent me books over this year, I’m very grateful. Thank you to everyone who has made me feel so welcome on Instagram, my followers and friends on Twitter, my new Twitter book posse whom I love so darn much, and to anyone who looks at my blog. 


I hope you all have a good 2021 and continue to stay happy, healthy and safe. 



Wednesday, December 30, 2020

December Wrap Up

 Hi guys.

Today is December 30th, but I know I’m no going to manage another book before the end of the year, so I’ve posted my December Wrap Up.


A Snowflakes Guide to Christmas by Dave Skinner ☆ ☆ ☆

Once Upon a Christmastime by Raven McAllan ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide by Rachel McMillan ☆ ☆ ☆

‘Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Afraid of the Christmas Lights Anthology ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Meet Me In London by Georgia Toffolo ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A Snow Garden by Rachel Joyce ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Witches Graphic Novel by Penelope Bagieu and Roald Dahl ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

I tried to read mostly Christmas books during December but squeezed The Witches Graphic Novel in too as I was dying to read it. It’s a lovely book with lush graphics, and The Witches is my favourite Roald Dahl book. Hope you all managed to read some lovely books during December!






Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Top 10 of 2020!!

 Hi guys!

Today I am sharing my top 10 reads of 2020. 6 of them are Netgalley books, 2 were blog tour books, and 2 were my own picks. In no particular order we have:


* Girl A by Abigail Dean

* The Phone Box At The Edge of The World by Laura Imai Messina

* Girl in the Walls by A.J Gnuse

* The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

* The Midnight Library by  Matt Haig

* The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

* Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

* The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke by Caroline Smailes

* Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

* Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton


Shuggie Bain was my all time favourite of 2020, and one of my favourite ever books. I’ve also just realised that I haven’t reviewed it yet as I struggled with what to say! I must get on that!

Have you read any of my top 10? Are they on your list?


Monday, December 21, 2020

Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo

 

What do you do when your fake engagement stars to feel too real?

Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes, dreaming of one day opening her own boutique. But these aspirations are under threat from the new department store opening at the end of her road. She needs a Christmas miracle, but one is not forthcoming.


Oliver Russell's Christmas is not looking very festive right now. His family's new London department store opening is behind schedule, and on top of that his interfering, if well meaning, mother is pressing him to introduce his girlfriend to her. A girlfriend who does not exist. He needs a diversion. Something to keep his mother from interfering while he focuses on the business.


When Oliver meets Victoria, he offers a proposition: pretend to be his girlfriend at the opening of his store and he will provide an opportunity for Victoria to showcase her designs. But what starts as a business arrangement soon becomes something more tempting, as the fake relationship starts to feel very real. But when secrets in Victoria's past are exposed will Oliver walk away, or will they both follow their hearts and find what neither knew they were looking for...


I’m not usually a Christmas book reader but this year I thought I’d give them a go, and if this one is anything to go off then I’ll definitely be up for reading more (I do have a few on my shelves).

Georgia has a lovely debut novel with Meet Me In London. It is set around Victoria and Oliver, who by chance meet and he asks her to pretend to be his fiancée while his parents come to town for the opening of his newest store. She says no at first but after another chance meeting she agrees. 


I love Victoria, she has huge dreams and seems like a lovely person, very  kind.  She works in a wine bar, and at night teaches kids how to design and make clothes, and encourages them so much. It was nice to see how much she cares about the kids, buying them pieces of fabric to help them make their creations. The relationship she has with her 3 best friends is lovely too, its the kind of friendship where you don’t need to see each other every day to know how much you care. 


Oliver is one of those characters who steals your heart, well he did with me anyway. He seems like a typical rich dude you read about in stories, but you quickly find out he is a big softie at heart, and cares about his family a lot. I loved seeing the relationship grow between these two, and change from strangers to more. I’m looking forward to book number 2, Meet Me in Hawaii which comes out in April 2021 I believe.






Friday, December 11, 2020

Unsettled Ground By Clare Fuller

What if the life you have always known is taken away fro you In an instant?What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother's secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake. 

This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Fig Tree and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

This book was so different to what I expected. The characters are lovely and so different in the way they live. Jeanie and her twin Julius have been brought up by their mother Dot so different to the way others around them have been. Jeanie has a Heart condition from having Rheumatic Fever when she was a child and her mother Dot is very careful over what she can and can’t, or should and shouldn’t do. They are 51 years old now and still live at home with Dot, Jeanie still has no job, never had a boyfriend, and doesn’t do things like heavy lifting because of her heart, but instead helps Dot in the garden with vegetables they sell in the village. Julius works and bring the money in for the household. Their father passed away when they were kids. 

But Dot suddenly dies and life is so difficult for the twins, especially Jeanie who really has no clue how the world works properly. I liked the innocence of Jeanie, but the bravery she has about it. She knows she will struggle but gets on with it. Julius seemed lost, and I think he needed to understand why their mother kept them at home them the way she did, before he could let any of it fade away.

It was a good book, slightly strange in places, but had a strong undertone of basic love between a brother and sister.

thank you again to Fig Tree, Netgalley, and always, the author Clare Fuller. 



Monday, December 7, 2020

An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins


 Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone. 

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’


I received a copy of this book from the publisher Boldwood Books and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I picked this book as stories with neurotypical characters interest me, especially as I have 2 children with autism. But I don’t think I was ready for how dark this story got. Jackson has an undiagnosed condition, he is different to other kids his age, he gets unsettled easily, and remembers everything from his life - he calls himself a memory magnet.

This story shows just how easily manipulated children be, especially if they are easily impressionable like children with special needs. The story delves into the life of Jackson, his mum Julia, dad Andy, and 2 sisters 9 year old Ruby and 14 year old Milla. Jackson befriends a boy from soccer who is also in his class at school, but things aren’t as they seem and it gets a bit scary. Especially when the ‘toilet incident’ happens and the police come calling. 

My heart broke for the family and poor Jackson going through this awful ordeal. And Julia, I can’t even imagine, going through something like this as a mother must be horrendous, especially when your child doesn’t understand fully what’s even happening. The shoe phone was a lovely touch and made me feel like Jackson had somewhere he could escape and talk about things. There were a few times I gasped, and other times I sat with my hand across my mouth as I read. And the ending was a shocker!

I rated this book 5 stars as I just could not put it down, but be warned there are trigger warnings in this story before you read.

Thanks again to Boldwood Books, Netgalley and as always, the author Fiona Higgins.






Wednesday, December 2, 2020

When the Music Stops by Joe Heap


This is the story of Ella.

And Robert.

And all of the things they should have said, but never did.

Through seven key moments, and seven key people, their journey intertwines.

From the streets of Glasgow during WW2, to the sex , drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever...

When The Music Stops by Joe Heap

I received a copy of this book from the publisher HarperCollins and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

When the Music Stops is lovely, it just is. The story goes through Ella’s past and present, and takes us to meet a lot of people who meant a lot to her at different points in her life. It starts with Ella on a boat with family, and we soon realise she is old and it seems like she has dementia. The boat sails into a storm, and water starts sweeping into the rooms. Ella gets hurt, and can’t find her daughter, but her baby grandson is there, so she needs to help him. Then we float to different parts of her life. We learn her childhood best friend Ruth is the reason we loves the Guitar, and that also plays a huge part in the story. After each chapter is a sheet of music from from a songbook Ella picks up as a child in a shop. Each song fits in with each chapter, and I loved this part of it. I do wonder if the music has been recorded anywhere, it would be interesting to listen to. 

The characters throughout the story are really interesting, and I did like Robert quite a bit. He cares a lot for Ella, and it shows as he pops back into her life at difficult times. Ella goes though a lot of hard times, and it was interesting to see the different routes life took her down, from drugs and rock and roll, to being a nurse. But music is always there in the background throughout, and tha gives the story something different.

Thanks again to HarperCollins and Negalley, and of course.. Joe. 





Monday, November 30, 2020

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Nice girls can do bad things

When Ambrosia first arrives at prestigious college Wesleyan, she’s desperate to fit in. But Amb struggles to navigate the rules of this strange, elite world, filled with privileged ‘nice’ young women - until she meets the charismatic but troubled Sully, wit whom she forms and obsessive relationship. 

Intoxicated by Sully’s charm and determined to impress her, Amb finds herself drawn deep in other new best friend’s dangerous manipulations. But if she wants to play Sully at her own game, Amb has no idea just how devastating the consequences will be. 

The Girls Are All So Nice Here

I received a copy of this book from the publisher HQ and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I devoured this book really in 2 days, I just was so invested in what happened, who was involved, and who was going to end up hurt in all of the craziness that takes place in this book. The story is set around Ambrosia who starts at a very prestigious college, and quickly realises she isn’t like the other girls there, especially Sloane, or Sully as she is known. Sully is a party girl who likes sex, drugs and dancing. But she’s a very manipulative girl, and gets girls to do her dirty work, and has boys lapping at her feet.

The book gives of a very ‘Mean Girls’ vibe, but a whole lot meaner. You can see how easily manipulated Amb is into doing the things Sully goads her into doing, things she doesn’t necessarily want to do, but the desire to be Sully’s friend is high. She ends up having a lot of sex with random strangers, ignoring friends, lagging at school and delves into alcohol and drugs.

The book flits between then and now, where Amb has received an invitation to her college reunion, and against her better judgement, she goes with her husband Adrian. But Adrian know nothing about what went on, about ‘Dorm Doom’, or Sully. 

A really good book though with some twists and turns, and things that a make you question whether you even know what happened at all.

There are trigger warnings for assault, mental health, death in this book.

Thanks again to HQ, Netgalley and as always, the author, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn




Friday, November 27, 2020

The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

Mary O’Connor has been keeping a vigil for her first love for the past seven years.

Every evening without fail, Mary arrives at Ealing Broadway station and sets herself up among the commuters. In her hands Mary holds a sign which bears the words: ‘Come Home Jim.’ 

Call her mad, call her a nuisance, call her a drain on society – Mary isn’t going anywhere. 

That is, until an unexpected call turns her world on its head. In spite of all her efforts, Mary can no longer find the strength to hold herself together. She must finally face what happened all those years ago, and answer the question – where on earth is Jim?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Random House UK and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from his one but I don’t think it was along the lines of the what the story told! It was a nice book though, with a strong undertone of love and grief, just not in the way I thought it was going to be. 

Jim disappeared 7 years ago, and ever since, Mary has sat in the same place at Ealing train station with a sign reading ‘Come Home Jim’. I was drawn in from the start wanting to know were Jim was and why had he left? Mary is a lovely girl, she met Jim and fell in love, after only 4 days they moved in together. She left her family back in Wales and moved to London to Jims flat where they were extremely happy. 

The story goes from the present to the past, and in the present Mary is working in a supermarket during the day and for a crisis helpline through the night. She meets someone one night at the train station who also joins the crisis helpline and befriends Mary, and keeps digging for more information on Jim, but is there an ulterior motive? The other characters in the story were well written, and I really liked them. kit who works at the crisis helpline was a favourite of mine through the second half of the story.

This book had me guessing until the end and we find out wha happened and why. There are triggers of depression, alcoholism and grief in the book, which were handled very well.

Thanks again to Random House and Netgalley, and of course Abbie Greaves 


 



Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse


‘At first glance, they’re magnificent, yet the more she looks, the more she realises how sinister the mountains appear: raw, jagged spikes. It’s not hard to imagine, she thinks, looking out; this place somehow consuming someone, swallowing them whole.’

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives and invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept. 

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned Sanatorium, makes her nervous - as does her brother Isaac. 

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realised yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in...

I received a copy of this from the publisher Random House UK and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

This book had me glued to the pages! It starts off slow in my opinion, but once I got to around 30% I was really intrigued, then by halfway I was hooked! My husband even had to ask me what was wrong as I gasped a few times!!

The book starts with a wierd and quite scary chapter, then the story changes and carries on with Elin and her boyfriend Will on their way up the mountain to the hotel Le Sommet, which used to be a Sanatorium. Creepy right. Well even creepier when Laure, the fiancé of Elins brother Isaac, goes missing. The Storm has set in, and most of the hotel guests have been evacuated when things start to develop. The staff and the remaining guests are scared, and frustrated at not knowing what exactly is happening, and with the police not being able to get to them due to the weather, it makes for bad news all round.

A creepy setting, and you get the feel of the isolation of the place with the description of not only the hotel, but the surrounding mountains, snow, and forests.

The story was quite really good towards the last half with some twists I didn’t expect, one that I did expect then retraced, then expected again, and one that had me wanting more. I’d definitely check out more of Sarahs work.

Thanks again to the author Sarah Pearse, Random House UK, and Netgalley for my advanced ebook. 




Thursday, November 12, 2020

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are black British, both won scholarships to private school where they struggled to belong, both are now artists - he a photographer, she a dancer - trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. 

At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in. A world that sees you only as you are respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson as written the most essential debut of recent years. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher Penguin/Fig Tree/Viking, in return for a honest review. 

Now this book was so different to anything I’ve read before. It’s all told from a second person POV, and you never know his or her name, which I thought was a great touch. But what got me with that, was because you never know their names, you do hear one name, and that gives that person the stand out and importance they need in this book, and that name is Daniel

You’re drawing a line towards her. No, the line was there, is always there, will always be there, but you’re trying to reinforce, to strengthen.

The story hits hard. It makes you feel so many different things, and they all grab you quite deep. The story is one of love and friendship, a real closeness. Caleb has delivered this so well, that you feel it deep down, and you just know these two people just fit together. But there is a background of sadness too, and a deep rooted problem which is all too real in todays world, racism. 

It’s written so beautifully it’s hard to actually put it into words. Read it, and see what you think.




 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Girl A by Abigail Dean

‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer.

Together with sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for  good. But first she must come To terms with her siblings - and with the childhood they shared. 

Girl A by Abigail Dean

TRIGGER WARNING abuse, neglect, captivity

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins/ Harper Fiction and Netgalley in return for an honest view.

Wow. I had this book for a few weeks before I jumped into it, and finished it in 4 sittings. It was not what I was expecting, I knew it was going to be hard to read, but it was a very deeply sad story. It ends completely different to what I expected. It moves between now, which is quite a while since their childhood, and the past.

The whole story is told from Lex’s point of view, and each chapter focuses on her speaking to or visiting one of her siblings. There is a big difference between all the siblings and how they are living their lives. They are all grown up now and have moved on, living with different families, separated from each other in different ways. But I liked getting to see where they all were, what and how they were doing. 

The past was hard at times to read, sad and dark a lot of the time. But there were times where it shows you love, and protection, which gives you hope. The end had me in tears and I thought about it for a long time after. I finished this book about 4 days ago now and it’s still in my head.

It’s out January 21st 2021 and it’s definitely one to watch!

Thank you again Abigail Dean, Harper Collins and Negalley.








Monday, October 26, 2020

BLOG TOUR! Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton


In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Pupils and teaches barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense ours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.




I firstly want to say a huge thank you to Rosamund Lupton, and Ellie from Penguin Random House/Viking UK for my physical copy, and for giving me the chance to review on the blog tour.

Three Hours is written so the book actually follows three hours, it starts at 9.16am and ends at 12.15pm. I loved that it was written this way, and made me wonder how hard it actually was making sure all of the things in the book could actually happen over that set time. The school has a shooter, and lockdown procedure is happening. But there are kids and teachers all over in different parts of the school, and the school isn’t all in one building either. There is junior school, old school, and a separate pottery room in the woods. When there is a gunman on the loose, how do you know where to go? 

The book follows a few different peoples perspectives. To name a few, there is Beth, who’s son Jamie is in the school and isn’t answering his phone. There is Rafi, a refugee from Syria who’s little brother Basi is down in the Junior School building, which is down a private path in the woods, away from the old school building. Hannah is in the library with a lot of other scared kids, and their headteacher who has been hurt bad.

The story had me on the edge of my seat, I needed to know these kids were going to be alright, and if any weren’t going to be alright, who would it be? There were a few shock moments throughout, more so in part 2, and it added a great element to it with a few twists along the way. 

I have read one school shooting novel before and it was done so well, it did make me wonder how well this one would stand up against it. But Ms Lupton done great, and I read so much of this in one day. I would recommend this to everyone who likes thrillers and suspense.

Make sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour!! 

Out in Hardback now, and paperback on October 29th.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Call Me Mummy by. Tina Baker

Glamarous beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want... except for a daughter of her very own.So when she sees Kim - heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop - she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But little foul-mouthed Tonya is not the daughter that mummy was hoping for.

Meanwhile Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserved to lose Tonya and ought to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, she begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle...


Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Serpents Tail/Profile Books, and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

There are 3 main characters in Call Me Mummy, there is Mummy, Kim, and Tonya. Mummy is rather stuck up, a bit posh I would say. She sees Tonya in a shop and feel she isn’t being watched as best she could, so decides to take her and run. She’s always wanted a child, and we find out more about this as the book delves into her past. Kim is young mother to 2 children, and has a baby on the way. She has a troubled past which has spread in different ways into her present life. Her boyfriend Steve is usually at his mates, or on his computer. She has Tonya and Darell to take care of, and sometimes needs to turn to her friend for help, who’s child has extra needs.Tonya is a cheeky little 5 year old, who takes crap from nobody. She reminds me of my niece to be honest, and I loved it. 

This story centralises around Mummy kidnapping Tonya, and keeping her a secret at her house. I was shocked a few times throughout the book, and there is a big twist I didn’t see coming. And the ending was great. I loved Tonya, and was so worried for her throughout, but you get the feeling for only being 5, she is darn smart. She knows how to get away with certain things, and when to do what ‘Mummy’ tells her. 

‘Mummy’ and Kim have more in common than they know, we are shown their backgrounds in flashbacks, their childhoods, and most of it isn’t great. It’s a scary, but a sad read deep down. I said a few days ago that the book is weird and fucked up, and Tina Baker agreed with me! So I must have nailed that one

Grab it and read it, you will not be disappointed, maybe a little freaked out.

Thank you to Viper books, Tina Baker and Netgalley for my free ebook :)

Out 25th February 2021




Monday, October 19, 2020

Sisters by Daisy Johnson


Something unshakable has happened to sisters July and September

Desperate for a fresh start, their mother Sheela moves them across the country to an old family house that has a troubled life of it’s own. Noises come from behind the walls. Lights flicker of their own accord. Sleep feels impossible, dreams are endless.

In their new, unsettling surroundings, July finds that the fierce bond she’s always had with September - forged with a blood promise when they were children - is beinning to change in ways she cannot understand.

Sisters by Daisy Johnson

I bought myself a signed first edition copy of this book as soon as I read the blurb online. I’m not usually a fan of horrors but this one caught my eye. One thing that grabbed my attention is that the girls are 10 months apart in age.... so are my 2 children. I just hope nothing else is similar!

Julie and September are close, very close. It’s a strange relationship, a controlling one, with September Being the one to make decisions for the two of them. They play a game called September says, which is like Simon say, but she gets rather carried away and says things like ‘September says hold your hand under the hot tap for 1 minute’, or ‘September says lie in the middle of the road’. September wants the girls to have a phone between them, not one each. She does most things for her sister, and July is starting to realise it isn’t normal.

Something bad happens which we don’t find out about for a long time in the story, and this is the reason Sheela moves the family to the Settle House, a strange old run down home which has been in the family for a while. The house itself is rather weird, and the girls relationship just made it seem even weirder.

The book started off a bit strange, but by the end of chapter 1 (which was only 27 pages in), it has you hooked, waiting to know what the bad thing that happened is. The story is written without any speech, and is mostly told from the viewpoint of July, which found a bit different at firs but got used to it quite quickly.

A good story which creeps into your mind. It had me hooked, and I read from page 27 to the end in one day!


Friday, October 16, 2020

BLOG TOUR!! The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke by Caroline Smailes

When 19 year old Theodora Quirke heads to work on Christmas Eve, the last person she expects to find outside of her flat is St Nicholas of Myra - the Saint people think is Santa Claus (much to St Nick’s disgust). Given he is in full Santa suit and professing to be nearly 2000 years old, Theo is wary, but St nick insists he is there to save her - although he isn’t sure how or why.

St Nick does know that Theo is grieving however, so he shows her four scenes from her life that give her hope, but he’s also had cryptic messages from the Christmas Higher Powers that lead him to begin Theo’s training as the first ever female Christmas Anagel - a role Theo is not sure she is cut out for.

The training is soon derailed by St Nick’s evil brother, filled with jealousy and spite over his brothers popularity and, with confidence dented, and saddened by society’s spiralling levels of expectation and greed, St Nick begins to falter.

Theo does everything she can to defeat the evil brother, and to lift St Nick’s spirits but as the deadline for Christmas miracles draws close, she realises she must complete them herself - but is she up to the job? 


The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke by Caroline Smailes


I am so excited to be on the blog tour for Theodora, I hope this makes you want to grab this book. 

I devoured this book over around 3 days, and its got me feeling all Christmassy. The first thing I want to say about it, is it got me googling St Nicholas of Myra. I didn’t know anything about him, I’d heard my children mention the Hungarian Santa in primary school, where they would take a slipper in to school and leave it overnight, it find it filled with sweets the next day. But I enjoyed researching and finding out a bit more of St Nicholas of Myra, and how the story of him evolved into what we know now as Santa Claus.

This book is hilarious, and I mean the laugh out loud at a few points kind of funny. It’s very sweary in just the right way, which to me made the story so different from what I was expecting. I didn’t think of St Nick as Santa at all throughout the story, which I thought I would have. I liked him, St Nick, in all his naked slobby glory. A grumpy old man with a good heart inside. 

Theodora, or Theo as she likes to be known, has had a rough life. She was adopted as a baby and didn’t know anything about her mother or why she gave her up, and has just gone through a recent tragedy. I liked her too, and I found myself crying for her a couple of times throughout the book. She just needed some guidance and a friend, and I think she finds both in St Nick. 

But we don’t just meet Theo, the story also follows Dottie who is the founder of Spitfire Saint Nicholas Umbrella Collective. These are people who have got together online to talk about their experiences with Saint Nick, and the miracles he has done for them. But it takes a bit of a turn and someone gets involved a little too much. Dottie is recently bereaved and SSNUC has helped her through a huge change in her life.

With a lot of laughs, a little heartbreak, some villainous behaviour, and some plotting and scheming, The Unwraping of Theodora Quirke was a brilliant story of love and friendship, and a lot of Christmas spirit. I’m now even more excited for Christmas, and St Nicholas Day on December 6th. Thank you Caroline, for spreading the Christmas cheer a little early this year, in a time that it’s really needed.

Plus.... dinosaurs (If you know, you know) 

Thank you to Caroline Smailes and Red Door Books for an advanced proof copy of this book.

Please check out the rest of the tour:


The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke is to now in paperback!!


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins


Twenty-one Years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were murdered in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Ten-year-old Sara Carter - nicknamed the Angel of Death - spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister Shannon Carter, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened on that blood-soaked night - with devastating consequences for them all

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Pan Macmillan and Netgalley in return for an honest review. Thank you to them both.

I loved this story. I think I’m turning into a thriller type of girl now! So this book threw a good few twists my way, there was a couple of open mouth moments there!

Sara and Shannon lived an awful childhood, and we get to find out so much of this throughout out the story. We get to understand why what happened happened, and you really do feel for the girls. Their childhood friend Brinley lives next door, and knows what goes on, but hasn’t actually seen anything happen, as Dr and Mrs Carter are so careful when others are around. We read flashbacks of that night, nights and days previous, and a lot of the present, always from Sara (or now as she is know Catherine), and Brinley’s POV. 

Catherine is now grown and living under a new identity, with her husband and daughter. But it isn’t long before things start unravelling, especially once Shannon goes on air to plead with her sister to find her again.

But there is another persons POV we see, and that is the Justice Secretary. To be honest I didn’t think he fit well into the story, and he could have been left out completely and I don’t think it would have made much difference. But he was there anyway, and I suppose just added an extra character. 

That didn’t take anything away from the story though. It was a fab thriller, and rather sad at times too, and I would definitely read more of Fiona Cummins work.





Friday, September 25, 2020

Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

 

Strangers living worlds apart,
Strangers with nothing in common.

But it wasn’t always that way...

Kerry Hayes is a single mum, living on a tough south London estate. She provides for her son by cleaning houses she could never hope to afford. Taken into care as a child, Kerry cannot ever forget her past.

Noah Martineau is a successful barrister with a beautiful wife, daughter and home in fashionable Primrose Hill. Adopted as a child, Noah always looks forward, never back.

When Kerry reaches out to the sibling she lost on the day they were torn apart as children, she sets in motion a chain of events that will have life changing consequences for them both.


I read this as part of the Perfect Strangers Read Along on Instagram and the book was Picked by Becky over at Beckys_book_reviews.

The book centres around the 2 main characters Kerry and Noah, and the chapters move from each persons point of view, from the present to the past. Kerry has been writing letters to the Adoption agency for Noah for along time, so when he goes looking for her he will get them. This doesn’t happen though, and he doesn’t know she exists until she finds him a long time after. 

Noah is grown, a barrister and has a family of his own, going through their own troubles, so will a long lost sister make things better or worse? How should he tell his family, his wife, his parents? Kerry is also facing her own hardships, raising a son alone, his father a deadbeat who drops in and out of his life as and when he sees fit. She works as a cleaner for rich people who live in big houses, and even though she isn’t embarrassed of her home, which is very clean and beautifully decorated, she doesn’t want Noah finding where she lives. 

The story is so nice, a lovely easy read, which honestly had me in tears by the end (I swear I had to hide in the kitchen as I was sobbing), so grab your tissues for the final quarter of the book. To be honest I kind of knew what was coming, but that didn’t take anything away from the story at all. It grips your heart, pulls it around a little, then puts it back full of warmth.

And as for Mikes other books, as Hamilton said ‘it’s not a question of if, but which one’




  




 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Girl in the Walls by A.J Gnuse

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.


’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home, stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can. 
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house. 

Eventually, every hidden thing is found.



Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.
Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?
And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?
I received a copy of this book from the publishers; Fourth Estate, Harper Collins, and Netgalley in return for an honest review. 
I loved the look of this book, even though I’m not much of a horror book fan. But wow, I actually really enjoyed it! I devoured the second half of it in one day, and it even had me scared of my own shadow on one occasion! 
The story is mostly all told from Elise’s point of view. From the start, you’re not really sure if she is alive or dead, a ghostly figure roaming the house, or... an actual child? It keeps you guessing for a while. She creeps around, inside the walls of the house, being as quiet as she can so no one figures out that she is there.
I liked Elise, she seemed like she was very young, but had an older mind. She knew how to do things a child wouldn’t, knew when to hold her breath as someone was just on the other side of the wall, knew when she could sneak out without being seen. The Mason family live in the house, Laura and Nick, and their boys Marshall and Eddie. I didn’t get on with Marshall for the first half of the book, a typical teenage boy, does what he wants and doesn’t like it if he doesn’t get his own way. Eddie I related to slightly. I know the book never mentioned Eddie having any sort of disability, but I picked up on a lot of autistic traits there. The boys relationship with each other seemed very true though, not fictional at all, getting annoyed with each for things I know my kids would too.
The book seemed to get quite dark and scary towards the end, and had me on the edge of my seat wondering about Mr Traust, and what was going to happen next!
All in all, I liked this, and would happily recommend it to others.  


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye...

Sylvia knows she is running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s one, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness I their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what give heir gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday - it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late.

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything...

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

I received a copy of this from Orion Publishing group and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

So this book jumped onto my radar on Twitter, and I just knew it was going to be sad. One of my biggest fears has always been dying young and leaving my husband and children, thinking about having to leave them letters and cards for special birthday and weddings. It breaks my heart. We lost my Grandma to breast cancer almost 16 years ago now, she was my favourite person, and it still hurts so much. This book just broke my heart. I cried at least 4 times, and went to bed after finishing it still thinking about Sylvia and her family. 

The cancer and death side of the story plays a huge part, obviously as it’s the main storyline, but there are other things going on. Each chapter moves back and forth from then and now, and has Sylvia’s Handbook chapters. Sylvias handbook chapters were really sad to read, but uplifting at the same time. She lists things she wants to make sure Paul still does once she is gone, and in her own way, it is giving him her permission to move on. In the ‘then’ chapters we find out a lot about Sylvia’s past, how she and Paul met, her family, and in a twist, a secret she has been keeping for a while. In the ‘now’ chapters, Sylvia has passed, and we see the heartbreaking way life has to go on for Paul and their 2 children.

The book for me, made me feel sad and happy in equal measures, but I guarantee By the time you get to the end I assure you, you will be weeping.

A great debut, and I look forward to reading more from Rebecca in the future.






Friday, August 21, 2020

Queenie By Candice Carty-Williams



Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London,straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 

I’ve had Queenie sitting on my shelf since well before lockdown, and I can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner.  I went into this one thinking it would possibly be a light hearted read, but instead found it filled with sadness and heartache.

Poor Queenie, she seems like kind of girl I'd want to be friends with. She's so down to earth and friendly, but is so lonely since Tom left her. She finds solace in the comfort of other mens beds (not always beds actually) and they're always the wrong kind of men, a bunch of dicks (literally). I just wanted to reach into the book, grab her and hug her.

It wasn't all sad though, with a good handful of laugh out loud moments, a few inside giggles, and a brilliant Jamaican family around her, Queenie was actually still quite an uplifting book. 

Her best friend Kyazike sounded right up my street, the type of girl who takes no crap from anyone, and is always there when you need a friends. Queenie’s Grandma was one of my favourite characters though, a strong, old ways set Jamaican lady, who knew what she wanted and when she wanted it. It was really nice to learn new things about different backgrounds.

Queenie has thrown herself towards the top of my best books of 2020 (possibly ever) list. If you haven’t already read it, why the hell not?! 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

A long time ago, Emmie Blue released a red balloon with a secret message hidden inside - and against all odds, across hundreds of miles of ocean, it was found on a beach in France by a boy called Lucas.

Fourteen years later, on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Emmie hopes Lucas in finally about to kiss her. She never expected him to announce he was marrying someone else!

Suddenly Emmie’s dreams are shattered and the one person she can rely on is slipping rough her fingers. But what if Lucas isn’t her forever? What if her love story is only just beginning...

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

I received a copy of this ebook from Netgalley and Orion Publishing in return for an honest review.

Emmie releases a balloon With a note and her email address attached to it, she is feeling very lonely after something bad happens. It’s found by a boy a long way away in France, luckily a boy who has just moved there from London, and they even share the same birthday! The story follows both Emmie and Lucas, and Lucas’ brother Eliot, whilst jumping from different years to the present day. We see past birthdays they’ve shared together, mixed tapes Lucas sent Emmie once they found each other, and their present day lives. 🎈

I loved Emmie, she seems so lovely, a kind girl who is always there for her friend, and he indeed has her heart. So when she finds out is he getting married, she of course is heartbroken. She deals with this in such a way I don’t think I ever could, which made me love her even more. Along with dealing with all of this, there is a lot of other stuff going on for Emmie, which just adds more upset in her life. But there is happiness, and it’s found in the most unlikeliest of places, in more people than one.

This book is a story of love, friendship, Bon Jovi (mostly Jon), sadness and heartbreak, but most of all, hope.

Thank you Lia ❤

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Doctor Will See You Now by Dr Amir Khan

60 Hours a Week
240 patients
10 minutes to make a diagnosis

Welcome to the Surgery.

Charting his 15 years working as a GP, from rookie to becoming a partner in one of the UK’s busiest surgeries, DR Amir Khan’s stories are as much about community and care as they are about blood tests and bodily fluids.

Along the way, he introduces us to the patients that have taught him about love, loss and family - from the regulars to the rarities - giving him the most unbelievable highs and crushing lows, and often in just 10 minutes. There is the unsuspecting pregnant woman about to give birth at the surgery: the man offering to drop his trousers and take a urine sample there and then; the family who needs support through bereavement, the vulnerable child who will need continuing care for a long-term health condition; and, of course, the onset of the COVID_19 that tested the surgery at every twist and turn. it, it’s all in a day’s work for Amir.

The Doctor Will See You Now is a powerful story of hope, love and compassion, but it’s also a rare insider account of wha really goes on behind those surgery doors.


I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.  The Book cover isn’t available on my copy of the arc (I usually screenshot my kindle), so I took a shot of the title instead.

I stayed up until 1am finishing this. I love Dr Amir, I have followed him on Twitter for ages, and have chatted with him there a couple of times. I’ve been looking forward to his book since I heard about it, and when I saw it was on Netgalley I knew I had to request it. I went from reading Dear NHS, straight to this one, and they are both so different.

Dr Amir talk to us about starting his career as a GP, and takes us trough some of the most memorable of his patients. I will say I cried (I cry at most things to be fair, but this will get you), there was more than one really touching story. The story of Tom, broke my heart, and the final words of his chapter got me, and the little girl Emily, who features quite a bit throughout the book. There were some funny stories too though, ones that made me laugh out loud (a hammer?), and ones that made me silently giggle. 

It ends on a chapter about what’s going on today with Covid-19, and it shows just what GP surgeries are going through.  How little time they (and everybody else) had to get ready for this new way of seeing patients with only telephone calls, unless it was serious and they needed either to be seen by a GP or at hospital.He talks of getting ready to work on the ‘red Zone’, and his fears of catching Covid.

Dr Khan shows just how much of a lovely person he is, the way he deals with his patients at the surgery, and also goes out of his way and beyond to take care of them outside of the surgery. His kindness will stick with me, and I’m betting a lot of other people who have had the pleasure to be in his life.

A really good book, and a great look into the life of a GP, and once again I will say, a very kind man.


‘Thank you so much for the Roses, I’ll look after them’










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What Might have Been by Holly Miller